I Was Passed Over for a Promotion — Now What?

I was passed over for a promotion that I feel I deserved, and am now reporting to a colleague I simply don't respect. Once I manage to get past the resentment, how can I turn this into a positive for my own career? I feel like she took the next spot up, and now I'm just stuck where I am.

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Resentment is a natural human response. Acknowledge it — then move on quickly. If you let it control your attitude, your mood, or your performance, you’re handing your colleague the power in this situation and you simply cannot afford to do that.

Instead, ask yourself some key questions: What did your coworker do that made your management team notice her and then single her out for a promotion? Maybe she shows a mastery of your business; she learns new things quickly; she’s a creative, innovative thinker; she has strong relationships with your clients; she knows how to manage down (to her team) as well as up (to her superiors); or maybe she’s trusted by management to grow the business in a way that makes them comfortable.

When you have honestly assessed her strengths, ask yourself a harder question: What did you do — or not do — that prevented your management team from seeing you in the same light?

If you can legitimately see the talents your coworker applied to get her promotion, you can learn a lot about what your company values. You can then pivot to strengthening your own skills in those areas and start to build your case for the next promotion.

If you sincerely believe your coworker brings nothing important to the table and was promoted for reasons you don’t respect, than you have to ask yourself if you’re building your future at the right company.

After evaluating the situation, if you decide you want to stay, congratulate her. If you can’t do it authentically, then do it because it’s the smart thing to do for your own career. When she’s had a chance to settle in a bit, request a meeting and ask how you can support her in her new role and what she expects of you and of your role in the organization.

Chances are it will disarm your new boss, and you might find you can start building an alliance that will prove beneficial. Use this moment as an opportunity to shine a big spotlight on your own career strengths. Put all your energy there. Don’t waste any of it thinking about her situation — or anyone else’s.

Christine Tardio is a trusted advisor and business coach to a dynamic range of women business leaders. She can be reached at thelookinglass.com.

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